Tourism Minister Robert Tonge reports a “significant reduction” in the number of passengers who arriving in Dominica by air. Tonge says they are still working to improve air access to Dominica, after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika. During a radio interview earlier this week, Tonge appeared to have been hinting that regional airline, LIAT, was responsible for that decrease.
He said “We’ve had many challenges as regards air access after Tropical Storm Erika. I’m not sure if LIAT took that as an opportunity, but at that point they downgraded their number of aircrafts, and everybody throughout the Caribbean suffered because of that. Prior to Tropical Storm Erika, we had 76 flights coming into Dominica, which came up to 6,031 seats, and then, after Tropical Storm Erika, as of March 2016, instead of 76 flights, we only had 46 flights, and 4,654 seats.”
Tonge stated that the number of flights and passengers coming into Dominica increased as a result of a meeting between Dominican tourism officials and a team from the regional airline, on May 10, 2016. That meeting took place after criticism by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, over what he described as Dominica’s poor treatment by LIAT, and underscored the airline’s sub-par service to the country.
Tonge stated further “As of 1st June, we have 89 flights, and 7,261 seats, that’s an increase of about 17%, or 20% in terms of seats, as compared to before Tropical Storm Erika. However, government is still not satisfied with the figures, and will continue to work with many different potential airlines to come into Dominica, so that it will be a lot easier for persons to come to Dominica, when they wish to do so.” Tonge believes Dominica is “one of the significant profitable routes for LIAT.”
The tourism minister also said “One of our critical roles is to increase awareness of Dominica. Before you can actually begin to market and tell someone to come to Dominica, you have to try to make them aware of Dominica. So every so often, they’re going to see those stories out there, and say ‘hey, this is a beautiful country. Then, we begin to market.”
He said this will complement recent improvements in air access to the island. $8.5Million was allocated for marketing Dominica in the 2016/2017 National Budget, to facilitate the implementation of Dominica’s Tourism Master Plan.
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